Chocolate Storm Gelato
Blueberry Granita

By end of the afternoon, we’d all be weary, and a gelato stop became mandatory, with its promise of a chair, a treat and happy cries of surprise at new flavours to try. Leslie Savage photo

Lemon gelato, here made with yogurt, enhances almost any fruit or tart with its tart lemony sharpness and limencello zing. Leslie Savage photo

Lemon Gelato
A gelato stop is a sure way to avert almost any crisis, in Italy or in Revelstoke. Italians have been making gelato since the 1600s, and even they weren’t the first in the world to make “ices” — ice pits and shade walls for ice-making have been found in Persia dating 4000 years back—but they sure have perfected the art.

The French were also early gelato makers, and Sonia at La Baguette produces marvellous gelato which Stokers out for a very early evening passagiata can enjoy in a wider array of flavours than anyone can reasonably achieve at home. However, for a crowd, home-made is an economy treat. You can make gelato without an ice-cream maker, but it’s a lot easier with.

If you don’t have an ice-cream maker (I’m told that lots of people in Revelstoke have one) use the freeze-mush method. This involves frequent stirring at one hour intervals over five or six hours and produces a result that is less refined but just as tasty as those made in an ice-cream machine. The method is to refrigerate a steel or pyrex baking dish, freeze your mixture in it for several hours, then remove the dish from the freezer and smash up the ice crystals,  mushing everything to slush, again and again. It takes 4-6 mushing sessions, but eventually you get a gelato texture.

An electric or hand-driven ice-cream maker produces a much smoother product, but still does require some preparation and careful attention to the freezing process. First you make a custard or fruit mixture; this must be cooled before you put it in the ice-cream maker or freezer pan. You can make the custard the day before and keep it cool in the fridge until you use the ice-cream maker.

The results, whichever method you use, are spectacular — fantastic flavour, and the added advantage of knowing exactly what’s in it.

Chocolate Storm Gelato
Chocolate chips and white chocolate bits add texture (the storm) to this smooth and creamy chocolate dessert frozen in an ice-cream maker. If you want extra-dense chocolate flavour, add half a cup of pure unsweetened cocoa powder to the mix, but I’ve found that children prefer a not-too-bitter chocolate flavour.
7 ounces semisweet chocolate (Callebaut if possible, otherwise, use half sweet and half bittersweet baking chocolate, or semisweet chips)
1 ¾ cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
½ cup white sugar
6 large egg yolks

1. Freeze the ice cream maker’s bowl, or your pyrex dish if you are using the hand method.
2. Put the milk and cream in a saucepan and heat to just under boiling point.
3. Chop the chocolate into pieces and add it to the milk/cream; continue to heat stirring all the time until the chocolate is melted. If you are adding cocoa powder, now’s the time.
4. Beat the 6 egg yolks with the sugar in another bowl.
5. Add a spoonful of the hot chocolate cream to the egg yolks, stirring, then add two more, then add the rest of the hot cream mixture to the eggs, whisking hard to ensure the eggs don’t separate but are incorporated as they cook into the mixture. Let this mixture cool for 2 hours or overnight.
6. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker or in a pan using the freeze-mush method described above.
7. Once the gelato is ready, put it into a plastic freezer pack and freeze for an hour or two before serving.

Blueberry Granita

This granita was frozen using the freeze-mush method—the ice crystals remain fairly large, but the flavour is smashing, not smushy! Leslie Savage photo

1 lb blueberries, ripe and fresh
2/3 cup white sugar
1 lemon
1 cup water
1 tbsp. pomegranate balsamic
I made this is a pyrex dish in the freezer using the freeze-mush method. It would be smoother in an electric ice-cream maker, but the taste is the same—very blueberry with a hint of the lemon for zing.
1. Put a 9 X 13 non reactive pan into the freezer to chill.
2. Make a syrup of the sugar and water: boil the water, add the sugar, boil one minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cool.
3. Grate rind of whole lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl.
4. Wash and rinse well the blueberries. Add them to the bowl with the lemon, zest, the balsamic vinegar and the sugar syrup.
5. In two batches, mulch in a blender or food processor.
6. Strain into the freezer pan or ice-cream maker bowl, pressing down with a spoon to get all the juice out. Discard the skins and pithy bits that remain in the strainer.
7. For the freeze-mush method, cover the pan with foil and freeze for two hours. Remove from freezer, scrape sides and bottom of pan, stirring all the icy bits into the centre of the mixture and breaking up the ice crystals with a fork. Repeat this step with freezing time of one hour 4-5 times, or until the mixture is fairly thick and mushy. Pack into a freezer container and freeze another hour before serving.

Lemon Cream Gelato
This is a creamy but tart lemon gelato that is basically frozen yogurt. It’s marvellous as a companion to the blueberry granita, to any fruit salad, or to most fruit pies. I made this in an ice-cream maker. You could use the freeze-mush method. Limencello enhances the lemon flavour but Star Apple Balsamic from Crescendo would give a similar lift to the flavour without the alcohol.

2 large lemons
1 cup Balkan style yogurt
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup water
2 tbsp Limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur) or Star Apple Balsamic
1. Freeze the pan or bowl.
2. Grate the zest of 1 whole lemon.
3. Squeeze two lemons for ½ cup of fresh lemon juice. Strain for seeds but leave the pulp.
4. Make a syrup with the water and sugar: boil water, add sugar, stir and boil until sugar dissolves. Cool.
5. Mix in a large bowl the lemon zest, juice, yogurt, syrup and Limoncello or balsamic and whisk until very well blended. If you want a perfectly smooth result, strain out the lemon zest now.
6. Freeze using an ice-cream maker or the freeze-mush method.